QBS – What and Why?

I recently had the opportunity to talk with young professionals enrolled in ACEC Indiana’s Engineering Leadership class on the topic of Qualifications-Based Selection of professional services. QBS continues to be a hot topic in the design and construction industry, as firms strive to provide quality service delivered by the best and the brightest while buyers of professional services face financial pressures. What many don’t realize is QBS is a competitive process; however it is based on qualifications and competence, rather than price. It’s the process members of the design community prefer for the selection of professional services, is endorsed by a long list of professional organizations and governmental agencies and is the basis of the Brooks Act passed in 1972 that requires the Federal Government to select engineering and architecture firms based upon their competency, qualifications and experience rather than by price. But why is it so important?

  • By fostering a focus on understanding the scope of work between both the client and the design professional, QBS helps promotes improved project quality.
  • The cost of high quality professional services is only a small percentage of the overall project cost. However, the professional services firm's qualifications can have a significant impact on the lifetime cost of the project.
  • Studies have shown that the use of QBS to align the most qualified professional services firm with a clearly defined scope of work results in a more cost-effective construction solution. One such study can be found by visiting the following website: http://nysqbs.org/resources.html#Group5 and selecting the "Polytechnic University Study of Qualifications-Based Selection" link under the "Studies" heading.

For my next blog post, I’ll discuss the QBS process.

Until then,

Steve Osborn, PE, SE, FSMPS, CPSM
President, CE Solutions